GFM Network News


Les Henry: Geography of acid soils in the Prairie provinces

It’s important every farm knows where it’s at on the pH scale

Acid soils have a low pH. The H is for hydrogen. The p means it is a negative logarithm, which means the lower the number the more acid. The logarithm means that pH = 6 is 10 times more acid than pH=7. Soils can be acid from the original geologic material or they can become […] Read more

Hardware to control downforce uses the seeder’s existing hydraulic system.

Precision Planting tools maximize emergence and profits

SeederForce and SmartFirmer provide accuracy and key soil measurements

A common problem that exists in seeders is the one downforce setting for the whole machine. A system like this can often lead to underapplying downforce pressure in areas of the field where soil is harder or more compacted. This leads to disk openers riding on top of, or partially in, the soil causing undesirable […] Read more


Mycorrhizal linkage to crop plants in normal soils have been shown to supply phosphate, copper and zinc to growing crops.

Facts about phosphorus you should know

Highly-manured soils, wet growing conditions and lodging in cereal crops

Phosphorus or phosphate (P) is the most complex of the big four macronutrients in crop production. When you buy phosphate fertilizer, you are actually buying P2O5 the oxidized version, which is 62 parts actual P and 80 parts oxygen. Your actual P is only 43 per cent by weight. The phosphate in all soils is […] Read more

Ontario-based AgriBrink offers an ultra-rapid, on-the-go tire pressure change system.

How often should you check tire pressure and why does it matter?

You could be risking your soil health, crop yield and operating efficiency

Quick quiz: when was the last time you checked your equipment’s tire pressure? Very few farmers manage the recommended weekly tire pressure checks; even fewer meet the ideal of a daily pressure check. The result? Tire experts agree that almost all western Canadian farmers routinely operate at damagingly incorrect p.s.i. The results are quietly costing […] Read more


Lime improves alfalfa crop in Peace River Country. This photo was taken from Farming Acid Soils in Alberta and Northeast British Columbia by P.B. Hoyt, M. Nyborg and D.C. Penney.


Les Henry: Acid soils. A wake-up call

At the farm level, soil test, soil test, soil test

This piece came about because of a technical session I attended at scientific meetings in Saskatoon in July 2019. Rick Engel of Montana State University presented a paper showing soils on the Highwood Bench near Fort Benton, Mont., that had become so acidic crops like lentils and sunflowers would barely grow. The soils were at […] Read more

The No. 1 cause of compaction is working soil when wet.

How to minimize soil compaction on your farm

Compaction facts, how to tackle it and its effect on your farm’s bottom line

If you’re driving alongside your field before your crop comes up this spring, it will likely be very easy to see the paths your grain carts and combine drove last fall. Look a little closer and you might be able to see the lines your sprayer and even your seeder drove months before harvest. The […] Read more


Other than the immediate downside of ruts, there are long-term implications as well.

The real cost of ruts and what to do about them

Resist the urge to rip deep ruts deeper to break up compacted areas

As the winter’s snow melts across the Prairies, many western Canadian farmers are going to be disappointed to see that those deep ruts caused by last season’s wet harvest conditions are right where farmers left them in the fall. Inconvenient? Absolutely. Ugly? Yes, that too. But a big deal? In fact, ruts are much more […] Read more

Sulphur pollution has been greatly reduced in recent years, so much so that some croplands now require sulphur for specific high-demand crops.

Why is there no mention of sulphur?

The reasons behind this nutrient’s anonymity

Sulphur (S) is one of the big four macronutrient fertilizers required by both plants and animals. Calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) could be added to this list but for reasons unknown they are given a lesser role in crop production in North America. When I was first involved in agriculture in the 1950s, nitrogen (N) […] Read more


Les Henry: Soil salinity and tile drainage

Can investing in tile drainage make your Prairie soil less saline and more profitable?

The idea for this subject came from a recent phone call from a farmer in west-central Saskatchewan. He was considering the purchase of a piece of land that was priced below recent sales but did have salinity problems. He was wondering about the feasibility of tile drainage to fix the problem and make the land […] Read more

Dwayne Beck, research and production manager at the Dakota Lakes Research Farm, spoke at the Regenerative Agriculture Forum in Brandon, Man.

Want to reduce pests and increase profits?

On the Dakota Lakes Research Farm, regenerative ag means good soil, good profits

When a group of farmers near Pierre, South Dakota, established the Dakota Lakes Research Farm in 1986, their main focus was on irrigation and water issues. At the recent Regenerative Agriculture Forum in Brandon, Man., Dakota Lakes research and production manager, Dwayne Beck, described how he and his team have focused on better managing the […] Read more